Update on Medical Mission Trip to Ecuador
I would like to take a moment to express the joy I had of going on this year’s medical mission trip to Ecuador. This is now my fifth medical mission and what another sensational experience it was. This year, we went outside the capital city of Quito in a small town called Atacucho. This town was nestled essentially next to a cliff overlooking much of Quito. Its elevation was so high that many people on the mission team became ill with oxygen deprived headaches, fatigue, and nausea. I will include myself as one of these who became stricken with this high altitude condition. On the first day of treating patients, I experienced the fatigue and need to drink bottled water. I could feel myself struggling to breathe. The lack of oxygen made me very tired despite a good night’s sleep. I felt like I should sit, but there was no time. We had to set up shop and start to see all the patients who were already waiting for us at the clinic before we even arrived. When word gets out that the mission team is coming, it spreads quickly and before you know it, they hoard the clinic. This is fine, since they are the reason we are there. They are in need of care, and we are there to provide it.
So day by day we saw numerous patients – the parents, their kids, their cousins, grandfathers, and other extended family. We were able to meet some neat people, and I was especially delighted to see some of the kids as being so “tough”. Because of the third world conditions they were accustomed to, a mere oral surgery procedure seemed like nothing to them. They took the needle injections and the procedures extremely well. Don’t get me wrong, we did also see our share of screamers who had never seen a doctor in their entire lifetime, and they were not so easy to handle, but we were able to somehow make them feel better than when they came in initially.
As a team, we saw over 300 patients and did over 150 procedures. Boy, were we exhausted by the end of the week. Many of us had to bout with the altitude intolerance, but our team made it through. To celebrate, we concluded the week with the traditional eating of the roasted guinea pig (“cuy” which is pronounced koo-ee), which is a delicacy throughout Ecuador. It’s a gamey, chewy flavored meat, but not terrible.
As a team we took many photos and all made it home in one piece. The camaraderie was excellent, the food was delicious, the hike up the mountain was exhilarating, but the most gratifying part was the service we were able to provide to the local inhabitants of the small town of Atacucho, Ecuador.
Thank you very much for reading.